Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier is turning his attention to current defensive backs coaches for the team’s vacant post of defensive coordinator. He had targeted several coaches who were NFL coordinators last season.
“We’re interested in some guys who are currently secondary coaches, who can be defensive coordinator as well,” Spurrier said yesterday. “That’s probably the best way to put it.”
Obviously fitting the description is New York Jets secondary coach Bill Bradley, who has been the only confirmed candidate besides former Redskins coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer. Bradley spoke with Spurrier several times while the two were at the Senior Bowl two weeks ago.
It is unclear who else fits the mold, but the club finally appears to have moved past coordinators under contract like Ted Cottrell (Jets), Jim Bates (Miami) and Marvin Lewis (Baltimore). The Redskins were denied permission to speak to Cottrell and Bates, and Lewis yesterday was completing a deal to become Tampa Bay’s head coach.
Spurrier, for his part, did not sound concerned by what position the candicates held in 2001.
“I think sometimes people get a little overexcited with people’s resumes,” Spurrier said. “Lovie Smith, he was a first-time coordinator with St. Louis last year. And all he did was rank No. 1 in several categories [actually, No. 2 in total defense]. There’s a first time for everything. Heck, I’m a first-time NFL offensive coordinator.”
Elsewhere, the Redskins allocated eight players to NFL Europe this week, according to NFL sources. Two of the players spent most of 2001 on the Redskins’ practice squad: offensive lineman Terrance Simmons and running back Stanley Stephens. Simmons was on the roster but inactive for four games.
The others allocated were signed in recent weeks: fullback Thad Buttone, defensive end Ladairis Jackson, tight end Ivan Mercer, cornerback Chandler Smith and offensive linemen Scott Harper and Dustin Keith.
Spurrier declined comment on most other questions relating to his defensive coordinator search, as he has throughout the process. However, he did make a point to clarify what happened with Schottenheimer, who was seen as having been offered the job after a brief meeting Jan. 18.
“After Kurt and I spoke, I was inclined to think that he might be the right guy,” Spurrier said. “But he said, ‘I’ve got some other options,’ and I said I had some other things I wanted to look at, too. So we kind of left it at that. If he was chomping at the bit, maybe it could have worked out. But a week later, we were going in different directions.
“The way I do it, I like to talk, see what the level of interest is. Then maybe there will be an offer.”
Spurrier said he does not feel any pressure to hire a coordinator soon, though he acknowledged that the incoming assistant might want to weigh in on free agency issues. The market opens March 1, and the Redskins are deciding whether they want to negotiate with several of their 17 unrestricted players before then.
The Redskins’ coordinator position is one of the last ones vacant in the NFL. Wade Phillips recently signed with Atlanta, and Johnnie Lynn was promoted by the New York Giants yesterday, leaving San Diego and Indianapolis as the only open posts. Tampa Bay has retained coordinator Monte Kiffin but that could change with Lewis taking over.
Meanwhile, one of the Redskins’ free agents, right guard Ben Coleman, hopes to re-sign and show area fans how he can perform when fully healthy. He was on crutches at Redskin Park yesterday following Jan. 29 arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, which bothered him throughout last season.
“I would love to return,” Coleman said. “I think we have the potential to be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. I know how well I can play when I’m healthy. That’s what keeps going through my mind during rehab.”
Coleman, 30, received the largest signing bonus ($623,000) of any Redskins free agent last offseason as coach Marty Schottenheimer sought to get the club’s salary cap under control. However, Coleman missed most of training camp with the swollen knee and did not join the starting lineup until Week 6. His return coincided with the Redskins’ turnaround from an 0-5 start.
Coleman believes the other two members of the Redskins’ starting interior line, center Cory Raymer and left guard Dave Szott, also want to return. Both are unrestricted. Szott’s desire to come back, which could not be confirmed, would be a bit surprising because he was so close with Schottenheimer.
“I know Cory wants to stay,” Coleman said. “And Dave wants to stay, even though people assume he doesn’t want to come back because Marty’s gone.”
Notes Wide receiver Michael Westbrook earned $1.1 million in incentives last season, Westbrook said and an NFL source confirmed. The earnings, which will count against the Redskins’ 2002 cap, mean that Westbrook, despite a frustrating year, more than made up the money he lost when he reduced his $1.077 salary to the minimum $477,000.
Four former Redskins assistants under Schottenheimer joined the coach in San Diego: defensive backs coach Jerry Holmes, linebackers coach Greg Manusky, quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer and strength coach Dave Redding. Former Redskins defensive line coach Mike Trgovac recently joined Carolina.